It hasn't only been a busy few months for me but also relatively hectic for my husband, Diarmuid. Once he was in the house I would either be typing or photographing, so it wasn't unusual for him to bath three of the children while on his tea break from work. We are actually quite different in nature as I'm never happier than when I am constantly busy, however he relishes in taking life easy. Unfortunately for him, this is rarely an option in our house, but when I'm under pressure I know that I can completely rely on him to keep daily life ticking over. My father also became quite involved in the whole book process, planting herbs especially for me to photograph and spending hours on end searching through old documents for family photos and recipes.
So after spending a few months of working every waking moment, we had a rather welcomed weekend of relaxation. We had plenty of callers, while also taking in a few family visits and even though I have been cooking quite a bit over the past couple of months, this weekend was jam packed with one of the things I most love to do with the children - baking.
I had so many recipes that I wanted to include in the book but had to decide on my favourite and most appropriately placed one hundred. This was something difficult as it meant that there were some which I wanted to include but didn't. However I will always need recipes for the blog and my columns in the Westmeath Independent and Easy Parenting, which means that these recipes that didn't make the cut can still be used. This chicken & stuffing pasta bake is one of those recipes and was one dish that I came up with purely by chance. One evening I was planning on making a pasta bake for dinner. I would normally top the bake with some cheese, mixed through a few tablespoons of breadcrumbs, but as I was in a hurry I used some leftover stuffing from the previous day’s dinner. The characteristic stuffing flavour of sage was in every bite. When cooked it gave the pasta bake a deliciously crisp and tasty top. I was delighted with the result and have made it a few times since. This pasta bake is very filling so a little on the plate really goes a long way and is perfectly served with a nice green salad.
1/2 onion, finely diced
100g/31/2oz white breadcrumbs
1 tbsp freshly chopped sage
Salt and freshly ground pepper
50g (2oz) butter
1 onion, finely diced
1tbsp olive oil
4 chicken fillets, diced
salt and pepper
500mls(1 pint) chicken stock
200mls (7floz) cream
2tbsp freshly chopped sage leaves,
2 teasp wholegrain mustard
100g(4oz) frozen peas
200g cooked pasta
1. For the stuffing, melt the butter in a pan, add the onions and cook for a few minutes until softened but not coloured.
2. Place the breadcrumbs in a bowl with the onion and butter mixture, and the sage. Mix well to combine, season to taste and leave to one side.
3. Preheat the oven to 200°C/430°f/gas 6.
4. Add half the butter to a large oven proof dish or saucepan and over a medium heat fry the onions for a few minutes until soft. Remove to a plate.
4. Add the rest of the butter and the olive oil to the saucepan then add the diced chicken. Season with salt and pepper. Brown the chicken on each side and cook through, which takes about 10 minutes.
5. Add the stock, cream, sage and wholegrain mustard. Return the cooked onions to the saucepan and add the frozen peas.
6. Bring to a boil, then simmer for a few minutes.
8. Stir in the cooked pasta until it is evenly coated then top with the stuffing.
9. Place the dish/saucepan on a baking tray in the preheated oven for 20-25mins, until the top is golden brown and the mixture bubbling hot.
Serve with a green salad.